How to implement an elearning platform
23rd June 2014
Why use elearning?
As workforces become increasingly agile there’s a demand for workers that can learn on the job and evolve their roles with the company as it develops. This kind of worker flexibility can be hard to create - let alone maintain - in a conventional classroom environment, as there’s a requirement that everyone in the class be on the same page. With elearning however, the classroom can be as flexible and advanced as the learner requires, without disrupting the learning of others. Furthermore, by integrating social features into elearning, it becomes possible for your more advanced learners to feed back to others and improve their learning.
Key considerations for elearning
Before implementing anything, it’s imperative that you plan your approach to elearning. There are a lot of elements to consider, and your decisions will have a big influence on the final shape of your platform.
- Hardware - elearning can exist on all sorts of platforms. Laptops, desktops, tablets, phones, interactive whiteboards; all are options for elearning. You need to think about what you want from your elearning platform and pick your workplace devices accordingly.
If you want your remote workers to be able to learn on the road, you want to make sure that everything is cloud-based and will run on phones, tablets and laptops. If you want to implement audio-visual content, then make sure that all of your hardware has the necessary plugins to successfully play that content back. The hardware you have access to can heavily influence your platform, so know from the start what you do and don’t have access to.
- Topics – Do your best to predict the areas that your workers will need the most education in and make sure you have the tools in place to facilitate that learning. If there’s going to be a lot of text, consider breaking it up with pictures and video to reduce fatigue. Conversely, if there are going to be a lot of video, make sure there are tests and breaks regularly so that your workers don’t lose focus.
- Types of Content – Varying your types of content can have a huge impact on learner engagement. However, you have to consider where this content is going to come from. Is there content already available online within your price range? Are you going to have to hire someone to create the content for you, or can you do it in-house? The last thing you want to do is put audio-visual at the heart of your elearning platform without planning where that content comes from.
- Cloud – It’s not necessary for an elearning platform to be cloud-based, it can be stored on the company LMS (Learning Management System), but it often broadens your options. Cloud-based elearning is almost certainly a good idea if your business employs a lot of remote workers, or operates across multiple time-zones. If you’re a fairly centralised business however, it is perfectly possible to run your elearning platform locally with no disadvantage to your learners. However, it’s always good to plan for a later expansion into the cloud in case your business grows further.
Approaches to elearning
Understand how your target group learns and the culture of your business will also have a huge impact on how your implement your platform. A good place to start is considering how most of your workers – or specific groups of workers – learn.
- Associative Learners – These students learn through association with different ideas and the exercising of component skills (code academy is a great example of this). Associative learning is routine based, and focused on competency. The learning difficulty is progressive and the learner is provided clear goals to work towards.
- Constructive Learners – Individuals create their own ideas by generating and trying out hypotheses. These workers often enjoy interactive elements, as well as being encouraged to experiment. From the teaching side, it’s important to provide opportunities for personal evaluation so that they don’t find themselves stuck down the line.
- Social Constructive Learners – Similar to constructive learners, but with more emphasis on collaborative activities and conversations. Interactive environments are best for these learners, and collaboration should be encouraged. Regular opportunities should also be provided for peer review.
- Situative Learners – These students learn best when it’s a social process. They develop their knowledge by engaging with the relevant communities and people, either in person or online. In the case of situative learning, it’s important to immerse your learners within the subject, and provide them with multiple channels to communicate with the relevant communities.
Implementation and Review
Planning is the key to a successful launch. With good planning, and a strong understanding of your office culture, launching an elearning platform should be relatively painless. However, it would be a mistake to launch your platform and call it done. Review is as much a part of the process as planning, and you need to rigorously examine your outcomes if you want to have the best possible outcome from your elearning. Consider popularity, effectiveness, and accessibility when assessing different methods. Whenever one scores low in any of the three criteria look at how you could improve, using your more successful methods as a reference point.
Follow these processes and you will hopefully have not only a successful launch of your elearning platform, you will also ensure the improvement of that platform for years to come. Resulting in a more flexible workforce, and a more agile business model.
Of course, it’s also possible to purchase elearning products ‘off the shelf’ and there is some merit in this if you have a clear idea of what you need and the product ticks all the relevant boxes. However, no two businesses are the same and needs vary wildly when it comes to the type of training needed, so a bespoke solution is something that should always be considered.
Thinking about implementing elearning within your organisation?
Author: Kate Pasterfield, Creative Director at Sponge.